Ed Tech startups

The brainchild of Jeremy Johnson, co-founder of recently public edtech startup 2U, Nigerian entrepreneur Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, American education advocate Christina Sass, and Canadian startup founder Ian Carnevale, Andela opened its doors in Lagos, Nigeria less than a year ago. Already, the company’s track record and ambitious roadmap has attracted the interest of venture investors in the U.S.

Today, Andela is announcing the close of a Series A round led by Spark Capital, the billion fund headquartered in Boston that counts Twitter, Oculus, and Tumblr among its successful exits.

Andela2Answering The Call For Better Tech Education

Andela put out its first call for applicants on Twitter in June of last year. At that point, the startup didn’t even have a functioning website, but it quickly received 700 applications for a four-spot program.

“I saw a tweet about this company called Andela that was saying ‘we’ll train you to be a world-class developer, and we’ll pay you to do it, ’” said Chibuzor Obiora, an Andela fellow who was teaching high school physics before he was accepted into the program last summer. “It was really strange, it almost seemed too good to be true.”

Compared to the Silicon Valley-obsessed culture in America, computer science isn’t a very attractive field for college students in Nigeria, Obiora said.

Cafeteria birds'-eye view“When you tell someone you’re a software developer in Nigeria right now, they think, ‘Oh he’s just playing with his computer, ’” said Obiora. Careers in banking or energy are much more respected, he said, whereas many computer science majors are relegated to the much less trendy IT support industry after graduating college.

This is largely due to the fact that computer science programs in Nigeria don’t prepare students for the startup world, according to Andela’s founders.

I saw a tweet about this company called Andela that was saying ‘we’ll train you to be a world-class developer, and we’ll pay you to do it.’ It was really strange, it almost seemed too good to be true.— Andela Fellow Chibuzor Obiora

“Every school in Nigeria has a computer science program, but they don’t teach you anything practical, ” said Andela co-founder Iyinoluwa Aboyeji. “Many of the graduates earn computer science degrees without ever writing a line of code.”

While this may sound absurd, co-founder Jeremy Johnson argues that even the best engineering programs in the world aren’t an adequate preparation for a career as a software engineer.

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